Thursday, 3 September 2009

But is it art?

On reflection I/ we left it far too late to start calling for the Banksy exhibition's run at Bristol museum to be extended. I would imagine these things are planned months in advance and the museum already had its autumn programme lined up before Banksy even opened. But it's a great shame it's closed when it had given such a boost to Bristol's tourism and there were still so many people who had yet to visit. From a personal point of view, I enjoyed the exhibition, it was amusing, some of it was very clever, although I don't entirely disagree with Charlie Brooker...

On a related note, the Council has decided to ask local people to vote on whether graffiti is art or not. (And gratifying to see that it has already provoked outrage from Brian Sewell, which has to be a good thing).

I do think there's a line to be drawn between genuine graffiti art, some of which is spectacular, and fairly mindless 'tagging', even if the tags are in pretty colours and show an impressive grasp of 3D lettering.

For the past year or two at Waterloo station, under the arches, there has been a 'graffiti artists will not be prosecuted' zone. In its early days it included some absolutely stunning artworks - I think I posted some pics on here but can't find them now.

These days however, the original pieces have more or less been obliterated by tags and fairly random spraying. I suppose that's all part of the spirit of it, that it's a free for all, that everyone can express themselves and there's no hierarchy in terms of whether it's Banksy or a 14 year old kid from Peckham wielding the spraycan. But still, it has rather spoilt it. I'd like to see them organise a mass graffiti session once a year, inviting all the best artists to take part, and maybe put on a bit of an exhibition, like they did when the zone was first launched. If over the course of a year it gradually gets trashed, well that's all part of the natural evolution of such things.

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